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PMI’s IQOS and cigarette ads in Israeli media: a content analysis across regulatory periods and target population subgroups


Background IQOS, manufactured by Philip Morris International (PMI), is the highest selling heated tobacco product globally. IQOS went through several regulatory changes in Israel: from no oversight to minimal tobacco legislation, to progressive legislation that included a partial advertisement ban (exempting print media) and plain packaging. We examined how PMI’s advertising messages changed during these regulatory periods for both IQOS and cigarettes.

Methods Content analysis of PMI’s IQOS and cigarette ads was performed using a predefined framework. Ad characteristics included regulatory period, target population, setting, product presentation, age and use restrictions, retail accessibility, additional detail cues (eg, QR code) and promotions. Ad themes included product features, legislation-related elements, social norms and comparative claims. Comparisons between IQOS and cigarette ads, and across regulatory periods, were examined using χ2 test or Fisher’s exact test.

Results The dataset included 125 IQOS ads and 71 cigarette ads. IQOS ads featured more age restrictions, retail accessibility and additional detail cues, compared with cigarette ads (93.6% vs 16.9%; 56.0% vs 0.0%; and 95.2% vs 33.8%, p<0.001 for all). Cigarette ads featured mostly price promotions (52.1% vs 10.1% of IQOS ads, p<0.001). The main ad themes were technology for IQOS (85.6%) and quality for cigarettes (50.7%). In later (vs earlier) restrictive regulatory periods, IQOS ads featured more direct comparisons to cigarettes, QR codes and indoor settings, and did not feature product packaging.

Conclusions IQOS advertisement content shifted as more restrictions went into effect, with several elements used to circumvent legislation. Findings from this study point to the necessity of a complete advertisement ban and ongoing marketing surveillance.

  • Advertising and Promotion
  • Electronic nicotine delivery devices
  • Surveillance and monitoring

Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request.

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